Prepare Your Kitchen for a Power Outage

Here's a post from the archives that may be very important for people on the east coast in the coming days. Please keep an eye on Hurricane Joaquin and prepare accordingly.

When summer storms leave you in the dark, one of your first concerns should be about the food in your refrigerator and freezer.

Depending on the severity of the storm, the power may be out for a few hours, a few days, or (in the case of a strong hurricane) a few weeks. Taking precautions before the storm will give you peace-of-mind and save many dollars in spoiled food.

If the temperature in your refrigerator is above 40 degrees F for more than four hours, perishable food items (milk, lunch meat, mayonnaise based salads, poultry items, leftovers, etc.) may be unsafe to eat.

If the temperature in your freezer is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the food may be unsafe to eat well. Food that still contains ice crystals should be safe. Always check the color and odor of food, particularly meat when it is thawed. If it is questionable, throw it out.

Print out this chart from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help determine whether your food is safe to keep.

Before the power goes out:

• Install a thermometer in your fridge and freezer.

• If you anticipate a power outage, such as in the case of a hurricane, reduce the temperature of your fridge and freezer. The colder your food is the more time it takes to thaw.

• Keep containers of ice in your freezer to keep the temperature down. A full freezer will stay cold longer than a half-empty freezer. If you have empty space, fill it with ice before the storm.

When the power goes out:

• Cover the fridge or freezer in newspapers and blankets. Keep vents clear in case the freezer starts operating again.

• Avoid opening the door.

• Use dry ice, if available. Identify a source for dry ice in advance and remember that if the power outage is widespread, there may be a lot of competition for this resource.

If you don’t know the temperature of your fridge or if the fridge was off for more than four hours, the food should be discarded. Eating perishable food that has not been kept cold can cause food poisoning, even if it is refrozen or cooked.

When in doubt, throw it out!

Check out the other posts in this series here:

Preparing for a Power Outage - Emergency Lighting

Prepare Your Family for Hurricane Season - Getting Started

Preparedness Essentials - The Weather Radio

(I love the convenience of shopping online and I think you will too. The links in this post are my referral links. Read my disclosure policy here.)

Photo Credit